ABC’s flagship comedy series Modern Family, now in Season 8, is bracing for contract negotiations with the cast for next season. Like with the other top comedy series in the same position, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, talks with the actors are expected to start once the network, in this case ABC, completes a license fee deal with Modern Family producing studio, 20th TV, for Season 9. For series of that age, it is the network that has to pick up the tab on the cast’ salaries, making network-studio negotiations tricky.

“Talks are ongoing,” ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey told Deadline at TCA today. “Anytime you are in a renegotiation, especially at this level, it’s going to be complicated. What I will say is there is a real enthusiasm on our side and on 20th’s side to try to make something happen. We all want to see the show come back next season.”

Would ABC be open to a multi-season pickup? “I am am definitely open to more,” Dungey said. “But the first hurdle is figuring out next year.”

The Middle
ABC/Michael Ansell

While not as dominant in the ratings as it once was, Modern Family, a five-time best comedy series Emmy winner, remains ABC’s highest-rated comedy series. It was part of a strong fall 2009 ABC comedy class that also included Warner Bros. TV’s The Middle. For a long time, the blue-collar veteran served as a solid 8 PM anchor for ABC’s signature Wednesday comedy block. This season, it successfully moved to Tuesdays to anchor the night at 8 PM.

“We are also in renegotiation conversations on The Middle at this moment,” Dungey told Deadline. “I would love to see The Middle come back.”